IndyCar crash at start of race sidelines contenders

The IndyCar race in Madison, Ill., lost a lot of its big names before the field even reach the starting line, including three of Andretti Autosport’s five entries.

Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud, Marco Andretti, Zach Veach, Oliver Askew and Ed Carpenter all got caught up in a pileup near the rear of the field as the green flag dropped Saturday. 

The incident began as rookie Alex Palou jumped out of the grid as pole-sitter Will Power took a while to ramp the field up toward the green flag. As the Dale Coyne Racing driver jumped out to the inside, fellow rookie Askew jumped the start and flew into the back of Pagenaud, who qualified 13th and was starting on the inside of Row 7. The 2019 Indy 500 champion then ricocheted into the back of Rossi two rows ahead, spinning the No. 27 Honda.

Then Veach, who qualified last for Saturday’s race, drove into the back of teammate Andretti, who then jammed into Carpenter.

Rossi immediately stormed out of his car and strode up pit lane to speak with his team to try and watch the replay and figure out what happened. The incident signaled Rossi’s fifth incident-filled race through eight this year. He also had a pre-race electrical issue at Texas, a mechanical in the GMR Grand Prix, contact that sent him off course in Race 1 at Road America and sliding into the wall in last Sunday’s Indy 500.

Once reached by NBC Sports pit reporter James Hinchcliffe, Rossi had cooled down and was essentially laughing off yet another bout of bad luck.

“I’m not blaming anyone,” he said on the broadcast. “It’s very reminiscent of a Michigan iRacing start at the beginning of the year.”

Veach added: “When the bottom lane checks up a bit, I headed to the middle and all the sudden saw Pagenaud sideways. I tried to stop the best I could, but everyone was in the same position, and some of us were left without an option.”

In all, it immediately ended the days of Rossi, Veach and Andretti. Carpenter, who also dealt with contact in Lap 1 of the Indy 500 that put him more than 10 laps down immediately, spent nearly the first half of the race in the garage. He came back out on track for a while before retiring. Pagenaud got back on track, but fell several laps down quickly due to issues with his shifting. Around Lap 70, Pagenaud exited his car in pit lane.

Askew was forced to pit early due to the contact but remained in the middle of the field. The Arrow McLaren SP driver, along with Palou, were both sent to the back of the field for avoidable contact before the race returned to green on Lap 15.

IndyCar races on the same track Sunday.

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